Nevada County couple’s suit against Newmont to go to trial in 2017
A lawsuit filed on behalf of a Nevada County couple who were caretakers at the 750-acre former North Star Gold Mine site in Grass Valley — alleging health issues from exposure to toxic chemicals in the soil — has been set to go to trial in May of 2017.
Shane and Heather Slattery’s attorney initially filed a complaint in July in Alameda County Superior Court, but the lawsuit was re-filed in August in Nevada County as the proper venue.
The complaint alleges that their two daughters — Ashlynn, 2 1/2, and Shaylynn, 4 — are suffering from possibly lifetime neurological difficulties as a result of exposure to high levels of lead, cadmium and arsenic at the home they leased from June 2012 to May 2015 from Newmont property manager Jim Simmons.
According to the complaint, the couple was charged rent of $1 per month in exchange for the caretaking duties, but were never informed about the unsafe levels of the chemicals.
They are alleging 10 causes of action, including: landlord’s failure to disclose latent defects, landlord’s violation of statutory duty, negligent misrepresentation, fraudulent concealment, breach of implied warranty of habitability, negligent maintenance of the premises, premises liability, maintenance of nuisance, intentional infliction of emotional distress and injury from intentional/reckless conduct.
According to the Slatterys’ attorneys, the couple was first alerted to the problems in November 2014, when they got the results of Ashlynn’s routine blood test for lead given by her pediatrician.
The level was much higher than normal, according to the attorney, with the cadmium, lead and arsenic levels exceeding certain state and federal standards for human health.
Garcia told The Union last year that the Slatterys “did everything they could to get off the property” as soon as they realized the problem, but were unable to relocate until May 2015 due to a local shortage of housing and their lack of jobs other than the caretaker positions.
In the intervening months between the times of the soil testings and their finding a new home, he said, they “minimized the risk by keeping the kids out of the home all day and making sure they weren’t exposed at night by staying inside.”
In a statement filed with the court, the attorney for Newmont has claimed that the Slatterys signed a lease agreement that included a disclosure of lead health hazards, and noted the case likely will include extensive expert testimony regarding exposure and medical causation.
A case management conference was held in Nevada County Superior Court Jan. 19; a settlement conference was scheduled for May 1, 2017, with the trial set for May 23, 2017.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email email@example.com or call 530-477-4229.
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